Risk reduction, the importance of choices

Published on Friday, 17 June 2016

According to the United Nations, there is no such thing as “natural” disasters, only natural hazards. In most cases, the severity of a disaster is closely tied to the choices we make for our lives and for the environment. These choices relate to how we produce food, where and how we build our homes, what kind of policies we adopt, how our financial system works and what we teach our children at home and at school. Every action makes us more vulnerable or more resilient to disasters.

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards (earthquakes, floods, drought and cyclones) through the so-called “ethic of prevention”. In other words, systematic efforts to analyse and reduce exposure to hazards through wise management of land and the environment, as well as increased prevention and early detection activities.  

Disaster risk reduction is a key factor for sustainable development that involves all parts of society: from governments to citizens, and from the public sector to the private sector. Last year, during the third United Nations World Conference on disaster risk reduction in Sendai, Japan, representatives signed the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030: a 15-year non-binding agreement, which recognises that each State has a primary role in reducing risks, but that responsibility must be shared with local institutions, the private sector and other stakeholders. The plan also outlines common objectives and actions on behalf of all parties who have signed the agreement.

Following the Sendai Conference, ARISE (Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies) was launched: a joint initiative to create risk-resilient societies by strengthening collaborations between the private and public sectors and other stakeholders. The High Level Forum on Implementing the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction at Local Level was held in Florence to discuss the implementation of the Sundai Framework. 

The event – which was organised by the Italian Government and by the Municipality of Florence, in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) – was held in Florence on the fiftieth anniversary of the 1966 flood and was attended by ministers, NGO and company representatives to discuss risk prevention.

Livio Gallo, Head of the Global Infrastructure and Networks Division, spoke on behalf of Enel – ARISE’s leading global utility and vice chairman of the Board– illustrating our company’s commitment to developing an increasingly efficient and resilient power grid, both in everyday situations and in emergencies. Digitisation, automation and remote management of the electricity grid, investing in an increasingly smart electricity system and the ability to handle emergencies with an adequate structure are our key tools for improving the network’s ability to effectively respond to crisis situations.

Gallo also discussed Enel’s Network Resilience Project 2016, which aims to respond to potential electrical emergencies through network risk analysis, as well as investigations into climatic conditions and agreements with institutions. “In extreme conditions, no institution, company or person can face adversity alone,” said Gallo. “We must therefore carefully plan and ensure cooperation between all players involved in the process, in order to develop a successful strategy and guarantee immediate and decisive operability”.

The session was opened by Florence’s Mayor Dario Nardella, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction Robert Glasser and by Italian Secretary of State Claudio De Vincenti, while the final speech was delivered by Italian Minister for the Environment Gian Luca Galletti.